I want to say how much I enjoyed the student performance (the 9-year-olds) a week ago Sunday. I was flabbergasted by the high quality of everything I saw. Each piece was an absolute jewel, without exception. Each showed such personality, but I could also see that the girls are getting a sense of form and dance vocabulary, which is of course the key to harnessing creativity. Everything (including the posters and your way of announcing them, then fading to black) bespoke such elegance and standards.

I was, for many years, an editor in the Culture Department of The New York Times (where I edited Alastair Macaulay, Anna Kisselgoff and the other dance writers).

Christopher Phillips
June 2019

Dear Ellen,

Thank you for another leaping, prancing, jumping, swirling, running, laughing, bending, rushing, walking, turning, tipping, bouncing, DANCING YEAR! I hope to have another one just like this one!

Love, Ming (11 years old)

As a father of an extremely creative girl who loves to dance, I have paid for routine, ordinary dance classes all over the city, and until I found Ellen Robbins’ class I had nearly given up on the idea that a dance teacher might address the creative spirit in the
great tradition of modern dance.

Bruce Adolphe, composer, director of Lincoln Center’s “Meet the Music”

Dear Ellen,

Tonight’s recital was the best I’ve seen yet. As the kids teeter on the cusp of their maturity, they made a quantum leap in sophistication, full in control of themselves: each danced an essay s though writing in space physically, with energy and conviction. Some actually manger to find more dance than was in the music: they were inventive and to a one, they did it with joy.

This of course doesn’t come without care and pedagogy. You’ve brought the girls along so that each became as much of herself as she can possibly be: there was not one class style that steamrolled through the dances, but as many individual dance temperaments as there were dancers. Despite the obvious individuality, they came together as an ensemble in their class dance, and clearly have warm feelings for one another: you’ve made them co-operative rather than competitive.

You are an artist and you are devoted, and you have transmitted your passion to these young spirits. It will live on in their bodies and their souls, and certainly in their parents’ pride.

Joseph Giovannini and Christine Pittel

To Ellen,

I am so exited (sic) to be in your class this year. I needed semore (sic) extitment (sic) on Thursdays. Thank you,

Kaley 8 years old

Dear Elan, (sic)

Thank you for letting me join your class. I’s (sic) the best thing I ever went to! (besides school). I ‘m happy I joined your class! I hope your (sic) to! (sic)

Danceing is fun!

Danceing is fun!

You know everything if your dancing.

(Cores) Humming)

m m mm mm mm

Danceing is fun!

Danceing is fun”

Your a good person if your danceing!

Love Nadine
Song/ Poem by Nadine 8 years old

You see…what is absolutely unique about Ellen’s approach is that she’s teaches, not just technique, but voice. It’s quite astonishing really. If any form of creative expression is good, it begins and ends with voice. As we all know, voice is what distinguishes one artist from another, and all great artists from those who merely imitate or take a reductive approach to contemporary dance culture.

I had the honor of watching Ellen’s graduating class last spring – high school seniors who grew up choreographing under Ellen’s tutelage, and who were soon to go off to colleges across the country. What I saw on the DTW stage that afternoon rivaled any “professional” dance I’d seen that year for the ingenuity of its expression, and the joyful confidence with which it was pulled off. Each year Ellen gives birth to a truly amazing group of artists.

Michael Penland, filmmaker and parent of a then, 9 year old

Modern Dance Classes with Ellen Robbins do what dance is supposed to do: train their bodies, enrich their minds, set free their imaginations. Each child’s unique talent and personality shine through.

Nancy Stevens,
Filmmaker and former dancer with the Martha Graham Company

Dear Ellen,

You contributed so much to Jessica’s childhood, making it, and her, happy, confident, and free to express herself openly and joyously. She loves dancing, does now, and always will. So – other kids need the opportunity to dance with you!

Best wishes, Peggy Eberbach, (whose daughter studied from 5 – 18 years old)

Dear Ellen,

What a great evening! I expect to love Katja’s work, but I loved everybody’s dances! It was an inspired and ambitious program, and it was a great joy from beginning to end. Carnival of the Animals was a riot and also very touching — very imaginative choreography and perfectly suited in every way to the kids and their audience. In all my experience working with children and seeing programs designed for this age, I have never seen anything better and rarely seen anything even close to this level of artistry.

Best, Bruce Adolphe, father of a then, 10 year old

I was a student of Ellen’s for eight years; like her other students, I learned far more from her than simply how to move as a dancer. Ellen has taught invaluable – I repeat – invaluable lessons to her countless students. I learned how to value music, space, the body, creativity, and myself. I learned how to conduct myself in a classroom, I learned how to be responsible, and I learned how to work with my peers. Most important, it is because of Ellen Robbins that all kinds of art — that of others and my own — has
continued to enrich my life and scholarship almost ten years after study with Ellen.

N. Hawley

My son is a concert cellist, a prodigy since age 3 and has had exposure to some of the finest teachers and experiences in the arts that NYC, and possibly the world, has to offer, yet his experience with Ellen Robbins has remained at the very top of the list.

After several years of study (and hopefully many more to come) my son has not only developed into a skilled you choreographer, but also a contemplative, responsible and thoughtful young man. I believe that his experience with Ellen Robbins has played a large role in the development of these paramount skills.

Christina Taylor

Dear Ellen,

This year and evry (sic) year I look ford (sic) to dancsing. (sic) Your frend (sic),

Grace 7 years old

Dear Ellen

Your Classes are so great and I hope your classes stay forever.

Hannah 7 years old

Ellen does not run an “after-school program”, she has the best creative arts program in the city and she is a treasure. Her individual attention to the creativity of each child is unparalleled in any creative arts program anywhere.

Ellen’s approach produces an amazingly high level of creativity. The range of ideas I have seen in a single one her concerts far exceeds the range I can see in a full year of dance going. I have seen dances that are far more sophisticated, musically and conceptually than most of the dances my college BFA program produced. That’s because Ellen teaches creativity as well as dance-and it is an approach that ought to be modeled and spread. By asking students to conceptualize entire dances, by asking students to title their dances and costume themselves, she requires students to be artists of whole works, not of sketches or “comps”. By asking students to rise to the challenge of dancing in front of strangers, Ellen raises the bar on quality like no other teacher of choreography.

Cynthia Meyers, Professor of Communications and parent of a then-11-year-old